The Turn by Kim Harrison

imageCan science save us when all else fails?

Trisk and her hated rival, Kalamack, have the same goal: save their species from extinction.

Death comes in the guise of hope when a genetically modified tomato created to feed the world combines with the government’s new tactical virus, giving it an unexpected host and a mode of transport. Plague takes the world, giving the paranormal species an uncomfortable choice to stay hidden and allow humanity to die, or to show themselves in a bid to save them.

Under accusations of scientific misconduct, Trisk and Kal flee across a plague torn United States to convince leaders of the major paranormal species to save their supposedly weaker kin, but not everyone thinks humanity should be saved.

Kal surreptitiously works against her as Trisk fights the prejudices of two societies to prove that not only does humanity have something to offer, but that long-accepted beliefs against women, dark magic, and humanity itself can turn to understanding; that when people are at their worst that the best show their true strength, and that love can hold the world together as a new balance is found. 

 

I have read a few of the Hollow books ages ago and thought that this would be a base to start with reading the series at the beginning .  Not knowing what to expect going in was a bit daunting.  I was lost at the start of the book with the contracts and so on but it picked up and got going with Kal hell bent on destroying Trisk after she cost him his dream job.

Trick worked with a human genetics lab to keep an eye on developments on human genetic advances and tweet them to suit other Interlanders (were’s, vampires, elves and pixies) or just to stop the new genetic material from hurting or killing them. When Trisk develops a new tomato crop that will help end hunger Kal is sent in to confirm her work. Still angry from what  she did to him, Kal decided to change the gene sequence enough to cause illness and to discredit her work, but what he unleashes spells death for millions.

While I found the story interesting and well thought out it did drag out way too long at 450 pages.  Most of the time Trisk, Daniel and Orchid were on the run, endlessly running and running and running.  It was way to drawn out and it took me ages to slog through the middle half of the story.  I skimmed trying to get to the more interesting bits.  I hated Kal, I really did.  He was vile, vain and pure worm like when it came to trying to save his own ass.  Trisk was selfless in her efforts to not only save herself and her research but also to keep Daniel alive and blameless no matter the cost.

A good and well written story but brought down by unnecessary excess plot line of their escape and evading Kal is what brought this book down from a 4 to a 3 star.

ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review

3/5 stars

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The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

imageThe Princess Diarist is Carrie Fisher’s intimate, hilarious and revealing recollection of what happened behind the scenes on one of the most famous film sets of all time, the first Star Wars movie.

When Carrie Fisher recently discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved—plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. Today, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a (sort-of) regular teenager.

With these excerpts from her handwritten notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time—and what developed behind the scenes. And today, as she reprises her most iconic role for the latest Star Wars trilogy, Fisher also ponders the joys and insanity of celebrity, and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty. Laugh-out-loud hilarious and endlessly quotable, The Princess Diarist brims with the candor and introspection of a diary while offering shrewd insight into the type of stardom that few will ever experience.

 

I bought this book on Christmas Day figuring I would read it sometime in the new year. But with her death yesterday I moved it up my pile.  I bought it knowing it would have a bit about her affair with Harrison Ford but also hoping that it would have more about her time on the set of Star Wars but it wasn’t as much as I thought it would be.

While she does admit to the affair, it is written in a way that gives no details to the actual act of it and is quite respectful in that way.  In the days of some celebrities going into very intimate details about things that shouldn’t be detailed, it was refreshing to read that it happened without all the bits that can be filled in with your own imagination.  I have to admit that she seemed to have really lost herself in him for the three months they spent together.  You get her point of view, not his.

The first third of the book was about her growing up and her acting as a back up singer for her mother and her first role in Shampoo.  She also talks about her casting for the role of Leia and how it came about.  The second third of the book was from her diaries at the time of making Star Wars, mostly about her feelings about herself, her inadequacies and her feeling for Harrison.  There are poems, again you surmise is about Harrison.  The last third of the book is the sudden fame and everything it entails along with conventions and the people she meets.

There are parts, especially the last third of the book where your brain is scrambled from trying to keep up with her train of thought, it’s like looking into the brain of an ADD sufferer mixed with someone on speed.  It gets a bit confusing.  I did find myself relating to some of the middle third of the book when she writes about her isolation and worthlessness, how messed up her mind is and how she worries about what people think of her.  I feel like that myself at times to be honest.

She did write three times about envisioning things happening after her death, like this quote.

” The hairstyle that was chosen would impact how everyone would envision me for the rest of my life. (And probably beyond– it’s hard to imagine any TV obituary not using a photo of that cute little round-faced girl with goofy buns on either side of her inexperienced head.)”  Well she was right, sadly.  

While it was a good read, it was at times hard to follow as she just wrote what popped into her head without much filtering.  To be honest the inside of her head reminds me of mine, scattered and can’t follow one train of though for any length of time.  It’s sad to see that she has passed away, she was a part of my childhood.  She was the princess that empowered girls of my age in a way, she was young, strong minded and helped save the day and as little girls she was the first one to do that for my generation, well for me anyway.  Thank you Carrie and rest in peace.

3/5 stars

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Loner by Teddy Wayne

imageDavid Federman has never felt appreciated. An academically gifted yet painfully forgettable member of his New Jersey high school class, the withdrawn, mild-mannered freshman arrives at Harvard fully expecting to be embraced by a new tribe of high-achieving peers. Initially, however, his social prospects seem unlikely to change, sentencing him to a lifetime of anonymity.

Then he meets Veronica Morgan Wells. Struck by her beauty, wit, and sophisticated Manhattan upbringing, David becomes instantly infatuated. Determined to win her attention and an invite into her glamorous world, he begins compromising his moral standards for this one, great shot at happiness. But both Veronica and David, it turns out, are not exactly as they seem.

 

Reading this is like rubbernecking at a car accident, equal parts horrifying and fascinating.  David is incredibly smart, egotistical, a fantasist and completely off his rocker!  He is obsessed with Veronica, so much so that he will use any body and do anything to get her to notice him.  To me she is vain and as dumb as a bag of rocks. She is only in Harvard because her folks have money. She parties, doesn’t do her assignments and plays around with Davids head, when she feels like it.

Because it’s told mostly through David’s thoughts you get an insight to just how creepy he is.  As much as reading it in this way annoys me because of the incredible details he uses about Veronica, even before she sees or talks to him, it’s interesting to see just how nuts this guy really is.

But neither is as they seem, Veronica isn’t anyway and as for David, well you will have to find that our for yourself.

While David was interesting to read, his vocabulary and some of his mannerisms aren’t that of an 18 year old. They seem to be of an older man.  It dragged in parts, but in saying that it kept me reading.  While I did enjoy it there was something about it that seemed to be…. I don’t know, I can’t put my finger on it. Was he annoying, yes he was.  He was always the one on the outside looking in and he thought that he would somehow transform himself into a man about campus and Veronica would fall at his feet.  Delusional comes to mind.  He just couldn’t fit in and felt somehow superior to those around him.

It’s different I’ll give it that, it seemed much longer than it’s 225 pages. Not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.  If you are looking for something different give it a try.

ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review

3/5 stars

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Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline

imageWhen a woman and her husband, desperate for a baby, find themselves unable to conceive, they decide to take further steps. Since it is the husband who is infertile, the heroine decides to use a donor. And all seems to be well. Three months pass and she is happily pregnant. But a shocking revelation occurs when she discovers that a man arrested for a series of brutal murders is her donor – the biological father of the child she is carrying. Delving deeper to uncover the truth, the heroine must face her worst fears, and confront a terrifying truth.

The premise of this book is different. Christine. who has finally become pregnant through IVF using donor sperm, spots someone on TV who has very similar looks to the picture of their sperm donor. When she insists on finding out if it is their donor or not she opens up a huge can of worms and trouble in the process. her husband, Marcus, insists she gives up on trying to find out if the man who has been arrested is actually their donor, Christine enlists the help of her best friend to find out the truth but she has taken things too far.

I did find her determination to find out the truth to be all consuming to the point of near destruction a bit much, almost as much as Marcus is about not finding out. The twists and turns in the story are head spinning and leaves you guessing as to exactly who 3319 is and what id actually going on.
All in all it is implausible that Christine would go through all that she went through just to find out who 3319 is. Marcus, I really didn’t like him at all, was controlling and very emotionally stand offish due to the fact that he felt that he wasn’t the baby’s father.

I struggled with this one and am torn about how I feel about this story once I let it sit and digest a bit. At first I was going to give it a 4 star but the more I thought about it the more I felt like it was more of a 3 star book. A good read but not that realistic as to the lengths that were taken with the characters.

ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review

3/5 stars

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Love on the Slopes by Amy Manemann

25449257For Jessica Harley skiing is her life and Jackson Hole Ski Resort is her home. She has had her eye on buying the resort for as long as she can remember. When she comes back from an enforced vacation by her employer she comes home to find that he is selling the resort and when she finds out whom to, she blows her top.

Dom DeRenzi is an old family friend of the Harley’s and was a one time love of Jessica’s. He has inherited from his father the business savvy to take over buildings that need attention and money to restore them to former glory. He has returned to Jackson Hole following a divorce and has brought along his young son with him.

Jessica is livid that the resort has been sold out from under her and can’t believe it’s her old lover who has done it. While Dom knows he has hurt Jessica in the past he wants her to help him with the resort, she knows it’s ins and outs better than anyone else. He knows it wont be easy to work with her but he wants the resort to succeed. Jessica has her own problems in dealing with Dom, while she is mad at him she still has feelings for him and doesn’t want that to get in the way of the goal of making the resort better. Knowing that Dom has a son and is married she stays away emotionally as much as possible. But as the sexual tension mounts can she truly keep her emotions under wraps.

This is a light romance with the usual will they/ wont they and the normal things thrown in the path of love having a second chance. While I liked the book it was predictable and an easy read for me, something to read after a heavier more intense book.

ARC provided by author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

3/5 stars

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Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase by Louise Walters

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This book weaves between two timelines of a family. Roberta works in a bookstore, she finds bits of paper, old letters and photos in old books brought in for sale and keep them. When her father brings in a suitcase filled with her grandmothers books, her grandmother being 109 and placed into a home, she finds an old letter that is a bit of a mystery as it was written by her grandfather who was thought to have been dead before the letter was written.

In the mid 30’s Dorothy marries a man who her mothers disapproves of. She suffers a series of miscarriages and her husband isn’t happy as he is being ridiculed in the village. She is desperately unhappy and longs to be a mother. WW2 breaks out and Albert, Dorothy’s husband, joins the army. A series of events introduces her to Jan Pietrykowski, a Polish Squadron Leader quite a few years younger than her. Dorothy is alone and longs for love and the advances of Jan are a balm to her aching soul.

Back in today’s timeline Roberta is happy in her work but not in her life. She hasn’t been very successful when it comes to relationships and longs to be loved. She suffers a series of tragedies and realizes that what she wants is love but it seems to elude her. She tries to figure out what secrets are behind the letter to her grandmother, but as her gran is suffering from dementia, answers are hard to get.

The weaving of the stories lines is wonderful. You really feel for these women and what they endure, especially Dorothy. She and Roberta long for something that for a long time eludes them both.

I also loved that Roberta’s parts in the book start with a letter or a photo that she finds in an old book. What I didn’t like was the desperation to be defined as a mother or as a lover. While both of these women are strong in their own ways their need, and in the case of Dorothy scheming, to achieve their dreams is a bit manic. Roberta’s story seems get pushed aside in favor of Dorothy’s and I would have like to have heard more of hers. There are many secrets in this book and loss as well.

3/5 stars

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Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican

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Saint Michaels Academy is a hotbed of hazing and brutality. 80 years of tradition dictate that the seniors haze the freshmen. It schools degenerates and troubled teens who no one else can handle. It’s a run down building that is falling to pieces as we first see in the very start of the book when an upperclassman goes berserk on Open House Day and is found running along the rooftops pushing crumbling statues of saints onto the crowd below. Three boys touring the school that day get their first glimpse of what is to come.

Three freshmen start the next year, Peter Davidek, Noah Stein and Lorelei. They must navigate the halls while also dodging the bullies and harassment that all freshmen get in their first year. Can they pull together as a team to hit back at the bullies or fall prey to them? It’s hard to tell who are the worse of the bullies, the students or the teachers who can be just as bad. It’s hard to fight when you are surrounded and have nowhere to turn. Can they make it to the end of the year Picnic when all the freshmen have to act out whatever “their” senior tells them to, it’s the end of the year humiliation that is traditional and St Michaels is all about tradition.

Everybody seems to be hiding a secret, something that, if it got out, could be used to hurt and torment him or her for the year to come. From the priest who has a rather large secret of his own, down to the lowest freshman, everybody has something to hide. Each is fighting either physical or mental abuse back home as well as in school. There is only one rule You can’t hurt anyone who can hurt you back. If you thought your high school years were tough, you haven’t seen anything like this!

I found this book gripping but hard to read as well. I understand this is a book about bullying and what harm it can cause but I found it overwhelming in the brutality of it and how anarchic the students were, the teachers who joined in the bullying and the teachers who stood by and did nothing to stop it. The whole school was in on the act to make the freshmen lives a living hell. I found that I would have wanted to kill myself if I was going to this school. Only one or two people bullied me in school but and it stopped when I stood up and fought back but what happens in this book is a bit much and a stretch of the imagination for cruelty on such a large and all encompassing scale.

This is a topical book at the moment but again I think the overall scale of it in the book is a bit much and over the top. I was going to give this book 3 stars but I will stretch to 3 and a half.

ARC provided by St Martins Press/Netgalley

3 ½ stars

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